tv Presidents Weekly Radio Address CSPAN April 23, 2011 6:15pm-6:30pm EDT
we are trying different approaches. we are trying to be creative. it is like when you are out in the desert and use the amount line, you try to look big. that is what we are trying to do. >> we are ready to take some questions from the audience. >> i would like to follow-up on david's last comment and ask whether using the procurement system in the federal government might be a more effective way to encourage good behavior by setting standards about what federal contractors ought to be doing in this regard and penalizing people who don't live up to those standards. >> i certainly think so. we are looking at that.
it is similar to the supply chain issue. we can expect the final purchaser to have requirements and if that purchaser is the federal government, they certainly should do that. recently there was a factory which produced some materials for the department of defense that had some major explosions and fatalities. should a company like this still be able to produce materials for the federal government if they cannot keep their workers save? >> i think that is an excellent approach. that is one we have advocated for for some time. there was movement in that direction during the clinton administration and the bush folks came in and wiped out the requirements. it is worth noting historically and osha, if you look at the law, what brought forward. prior to osha, it said that as a
federal contractor you had to follow the standards. initial standards were adopted in 1971 and we still live with that today. unfortunately, the the whole area has not been looked at or strongly enforced, but it is an excellent idea. we have to look however can to try to leverage the change that needs to happen, and their need to be some bigger levers to bring about the kind of change we need. >> when there is a problem that cannot be solved immediately, how often does this concern become part of a contract, and what is the responsibility then of the union, its members, the
management, and osha to make sure this is corrected in the future and the contract is fulfilled? >> unions have tried to address these problems over the years, and the basic approach of unions in safety and health has been to bargain over the basic structure or the basic rights of having a committee, having represented, having the training that is needed so you can actually address the problems. a number of unions go beyond that and to look at specific problems. look at the language that exist in the steelworkers union. they negotiated very extensive language around particular hazards. the same thing in the autoworkers union. they try to use the contract to enforce that as well. one of the things we have to think about is, the lot is 40
years old. it came into effect back in 1970. there has been a whole generation of folks that grew up with this law in safety and health. all of us here, and the same thing in terms of the work force. many work forces in the basic industries here had a new generation of folks coming in, and they take for granted that this law was always there. we have a lot to do here to bring along folks and educate people and get them involved in these issues so that we have not only an educated work force but a new generation of educated advocate said leaders in the field. that is one the biggest challenges we face in the union movement, government, and among employers today in the field. >> right over here.
>> another industry specific question for you, construction. since this is a look back at oshas first four years, maybe you can speak a little bit to how the construction of our metropolitan hazards has involved an role that industry has helped to shape, and if there are any priorities in addition to silica that you are looking at. >> construction has been a very important area for us to look at. 60% of our inspections are in construction, and has a far higher fatality rate than any other industry we regulate. there is a separate director on construction. we have a number of standards being planned. basilicas standard will very much impact construction.
one thing we have done recently that we are very proud of is issue a directive on fall protection. the number one cause of the sodality -- fatality in construction is false. -- is falls. if workers are not protected, they are at risk of falling. a month or so ago, two workers were on a scaffold but collapsed in yonkers. the workers were saved because they were wearing fault protection on the scaffold. up until recently we did not require that sort of fall protection for residential construction. the residential construction industry was exempted from those
rules for some reason. we just change that. we were sued in federal court and we were victorious. in a few months there will be a requirement for all workers involved in construction at a height where they could be heard will have to wear fall prevention. >> from the new point of view in construction, it is obviously very hazardous industry. a lot of efforts over the years have tried to address safety and health with a lot of contractual language between management and unions, setting up extensive training programs. you have funds that are dedicated that come out of collective bargaining language that go into training and ensure that the workers are getting the proper safety and health training as they are coming into the industry.
that is not something that was mandated by osha. it was a bargain by that unionized industry and the construction unions. i think it made a huge difference in addressing safety and health in changing conditions. one other thing that osha has done under your leadership, in construction, but one of the highest risk groups are immigrants and not english- speaking workers. it makes up a big part of that work force. you look at the fatality rates among those workers, they are much higher than other workers, and osha has done a terrific job in trying to get that out. >> construction is a very heterogenous industry.
there are many small construction jobs that higher immigrant workers, who they pay less than minimum wage, and essentially provide little adequate safety protection. we are very much focused on those workers and those employers. going out and doing more enforcement, doing compliant -- compliance assistance on the web, and also reaching out to organizations that reach into but workers to do not speak english, and three churches and community organizations, doing workshops in getting the information out to them that they do have rights. do not go up on that roof without all protection, and if you do you are putting yourself at serious risk. we have made very clear to employers that we will enforce
required training. you have to do it in that language that workers understand. it is amazing to think that we have been in many situations where we said to the employer, why did you not trained those workers to work safely or how to use the equipment? they did not speak english. if you are hiring people, you have to make sure their work safely, and part of that is training them in a language they understand. >> one that carries we talked about is the issue of sustainability. many think of it sustainability as green jobs, etc.. i give osha a credit for the partnership that have had with niosh and others about green jobs being save jobs. when you look at things like installing solar panels on residential dwellings, we will look at that and make sure those people are safe all they are doing it. when we are talking about
sustainability, we are talking about both. >> construction is an industry we all care a lot about. i would just add one thing, and it goes back to something david was saying. that is the problem of coordination and the fact that you can have 15 or 20 different employees at a construction site. that has always been a challenge for osha. in looking at a putrid challenge beyond construction, we have more and more industries -- of future challenge beyond construction, it is not one employer but multiple employers, and where the boundary of who is responsible for activities that the work side are becoming very blurred. one of the things we have to think hard about is how to coordinate and make sure we have adequate health critique health and safety on more and more places that look like construction. oc>> we have a lot of workers
being reclassified as a self- employed, independent contractors. they are not protected by an ocean. when you look at the fatality statistics that are collected every year, increasing numbers of those statistics come from the death of self-employed individuals not only in construction but in other sectors. this classification directly intersects with osha because once someone is self-employed, osha does not touch them. >> we have time for one more question. >> i would like to talk about osha and the work force development. with so many unemployed in transitioning, i know a lot of nonprofits are taking on work
force development. does oshi think about maybe doing some videos available online or maybe some webinars so that we can have advance notification and make that part of our protocol? >> that is an interesting proposal. we have a program where we actually give funding to organizations to train workers across the board in every sort of sector. we are interested in reaching non-traditional groups through that and provide training for groups that do not have much background and encourage them to part with groups that do have training. we want to make sure they know about safety and health, so
thank you for that suggestion. >> this was a great discussion. please join me in thanking our panelists, david michaels. [applause] that is it. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] next tuesday, a discussion on the challenges facing public broadcasting. this is hosted by the national press club at the missouri school of journalism. watch live coverage at 9:00 a.m. eastern on c-span2. eastern on c-span2.